The Social Employers' Dutch member Actiz published an article providing facts and figures on the Dutch care sector and clarifying some common misconceptions about the sector.
Actiz is a sector organisation in the Netherland with over 400 members, which are providers in care, welfare, prevention and other related service sectors.
The article covers remuneration, reasons why workers leave the sector and aspects of control and autonomy of care professionals, which are described as the three main issues in the debate about the care sector.
1. Remuneration: In the remuneration discussion, part-time income is regularly used as a standard for economic independence. In the Netherlands, about 85% of workers in care are women, and the average age of care workers in residential care and home care is almost 45 years old. This is also the group that works part-time most commonly, the so-called 1.5 earnings model. With a part-time income, economic independence in the Netherlands is (almost) impossible in this income category.
Looking at salary levels, the salaries in the residential care and home care sector hardly differ from those in other care sectors (source: AWVN and ActiZ). The differences in pay compared to the public sector are small, but it is a fact that care workers are paid less than employees in the market sectors. To change this, politicians and care financers carry a shared responsibility.
2. Reasons for leaving the care sector: The main reason for leaving the care sector is not the remuneration, yet this is a common assumption. The number one reason for the outflow of workforce is the workload. In the last years, the labour productivity has increased enormously due to demographic change. The number of people over 80 with care needs grows (23% in the past 10 years), while the number of employees has only now reached the level of 2012/2013. There are therefore fewer employees available to fulfill the care needs of an ageing population (figures via Statistics Netherlands).
Moreover, the administrative burden has also played an important role in workers leaving the sector. In healthcare, working time dedicated to administrative tasks increased from 25% in 2016 to 35% in 2019. The picture is similar for residential care and home care. Through less regulation and by giving more professional autonomy and trust, this burden could be lowered.
3. Control and autonomy of care professionals: While working hours / rosters are regulated in Dutch collective labour agreements, this is not applied everywhere. This is partly due to the complexity of scheduling in home care and district nursing and the corresponding responsibility that cannot always be carried by care professionals. The sector must continue to pay attention to this, also with new digital means and possibilities.
Regarding professional autonomy, Actiz emphasises the need for discussions between employers and employees. Enabling professional autonomy is also partly in the hands of financing. The rules about what care professionals are allowed to do in their position or within the care plan are often strict, which puts at stake their own professionalism.
To conclude, Actiz highlights the importance of ensuring more inflow, better training and a different organisation of work. Not only employers need to act, but also the care financers, who have to make it financially possible to invest in employees, in training and in innovation.
Access to the full article in Dutch here.